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A Virginia City’s Initiative Aims to Tackle Racial Disparities in Juvenile Justice System

Charlottesville initiatives aimed to help Black youth The goal of a new initiative in Virginia is to help solve the problem of racial disparity in Charlottesville’s juvenile justice system by reaching out to young Black men in the area.

A recent study sparked concern in the area after it was revealed that young Black men were being arrested at a disproportionately high rate compared to their white counterparts.

According to The Daily Progress, the city’s Disproportionate Minority Contact task force report said that Blacks were being arrested three times as often as whites.

Many of the arrests were results of calls to dispatchers. Stops initiated by the police tended to be more racially balanced, the results showed.

“The main conclusion of this report is that Black youth are entering the system in disproportionate numbers compared to their White counterparts,” the 108-page study revealed.

The Black Male Alliance is hoping to change these statistics.

The group launched the new initiative Friday with an open call to all African-American men who are interested in getting involved with the program.

The initiative, titled Black Male Achievement, will introduce two programs to the area in an attempt to give young Black men guidance and access to the resources they need to be successful.

The Young Lions program will target a younger age group of high school students, while the My Brother’s Keeper program will target young adults from 18 to 25.

Report reveals disparities in Charlottesville juvenile justice system Specific information regarding the programs’ plans has not been released, but one leader stressed the need for policy change.

“We believe through policy and systems change we’ll be able to remedy some of these inequities and improve the outcomes for Black males,” said Marc Philpart, an initiative leader and associate director of PolicyLink.

According to assistant city manager and city liaison for the Black Male Alliance, David Ellis, it will be impossible for the initiative to be successful if they don’t garner the necessary support from the community.

“This will have to be a community effort – not one department, not one nonprofit, not one faith-based organization – to be able to do what needs to be done, so we’re all going to have to come together,” Ellis said.

The programs will explore a variety of different career and educational goals in order to make the right plan for success for each young man.

“Success is relative for everyone,” said Wes Bellamy, a member of the steering committee for the Black Male Alliance. “For one male it may be just going to get HVAC certification, for another male it may be getting a degree from a college, for another it may be getting a doctoral degree. Success is relative, and we’re going to allow the young men to define what success is for them.”


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